No 'lurch to the left' for Labour, insists Miliband

26th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Labour's new leader Ed Miliband batted aside suggestions that his party would see a "lurch to the left" with him as its new leader, in an interview with the BBC here on Sunday.

Miliband, elected leader of the main opposition party Saturday thanks to the support of trade unions, insisted he lay "to the centre ground of politics" as he takes on the new coalition government led by Prime Minister David Cameron.

"But it's about defining where the centre ground is," he said.

"There are big injustices that we need to deal with in Britain, many of them affecting so-called 'Middle' (class) England in this country.

"People who are working hard, working long hours. They don't have enough time to see their kids. They're worried about their kids getting into debt, worried about housing.

"They're the people I want to speak for in this country," he told the BBC at the start of Labour's annual conference in Manchester, northwest England.

The new Labour leader said being labelled as 'Red Ed' by the right-wing press was "both tiresome and also rubbish frankly".

He added that his leadership was "not about some lurch to the left. Absolutely not."

Miliband defeated his better-known older brother David, the former foreign secretary, in a knife-edge result on Saturday, winning the leadership battle by 50.65 percent to 49.35 percent.

"I'm nobody's man, I'm my own man," Ed Miliband insisted, despite securing victory thanks to the support of unions.

He reminded union leaders that "strikes always have to be a last resort" amid the likelihood of walkouts by workers in protest at massive planned cuts to public services by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

While hitting out at the high level of cuts expected, Labour's new leader admitted that cutbacks were needed to reduce Britain's huge debt caused by the financial crisis and bank bailouts.

"I'm not going to oppose every cut that the coalition comes up with," he said. "It wouldn't be responsible and it wouldn't be credible to say we oppose every cut."

However, he said that more should be done to claw back money from banks via taxation in a bid to protect public spending.

Miliband said that his brother had shown him "extraordinary generosity and graciousness" since his defeat.

"He now wants me to get on with the job of leading the party in the interests of the party and indeed the country," he said, adding it was too soon to think about whether his brother would have a role in the new shadow cabinet.

© 2010 AFP

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